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November 06, 2023
Squats are arguably the best compound exercise for building strength and mass. In addition to working the entire lower body, squats also work your back, core, and stabilizer muscles that help maintain posture and perform the basic movements required in life.
So we know squats are great for building mass and improving your overall ability to function, but do their benefits extend beyond gaining muscle? In this article, we'll explore whether doing squats increases testosterone, the male sex hormone (it impacts you too, ladies) that plays a role in your overall mood, energy, and ability to maintain or gain muscle, among many other things.
Does doing squats increase testosterone? We're about to find out!
Table of Contents:
Testosterone is one of the androgens, or anabolic hormones, that is responsible for the growth and development of the male sex characteristics. Although testosterone supports the growth of male characteristics, women also have testosterone in smaller amounts. Testosterone is produced primarily in the gonads, which are in the testes in males and ovaries in women, as well as in small amounts from the adrenal glands. Testosterone’s role begins at birth, where it determines a child’s sex in fetal development.
During puberty, testosterone levels drastically increase in males to help the growth and development of primary and secondary male characteristics. This includes growth of height, growth of body and pubic hair, the deepening of the voice, an increased libido, and an increase in the growth of reproductive organs, including the prostate gland. In male adulthood, testosterone plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy sex life, muscle growth, creating new red blood cells, and improving overall health.
In women, most of the testosterone is naturally converted to the female sex hormone estradiol. Testosterone is important in women because it plays an essential role in their libido, balancing other hormones, maintaining bone density, creating new red blood cells, correcting the menstrual cycle, and overall well-being.
You can read more about this in our article: Low Testosterone In Women: Does It Harm Your Health?
Yes! Squats are one of the best, if not the best, exercises to increase testosterone production. Countless studies have confirmed that resistance training can increase testosterone levels, but various factors affect the extent of the increase. Heavy resistance training has been shown to cause increases in serum testosterone levels almost immediately, but the levels usually return to normal thirty minutes post-workout1.
However, further studies have shown that resistance exercise of small muscle groups does not elevate testosterone levels in the way that resistance of major muscle groups does, like with a squat. In one study, researchers noticed that single-arm dumbbell bicep curls did not affect plasma testosterone levels; however, the group that performed legs and arms had a more significant increase in plasma testosterone and growth hormone2.
Another aspect of squats that determines the extent of testosterone response is if the exercise is performed with free weights compared to machine weight exercises.
One study examined the hormonal response of barbell squats compared to machine leg presses. Ten active weight-lifters, roughly 25 years old, performed six sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise, one week apart. There were more significant increases in testosterone and human growth hormone levels with the barbell squat compared to the leg press3.
Research has also confirmed to maximize the increase in testosterone, a compound movement like the squat should be done first before other resistance exercises.
One study compared the hormonal response of starting with a large-muscle group and progressing to small-muscle group exercises compared to the reverse. The results showed that starting with a large-muscle group exercise like the squat results in more significant increases in serum testosterone and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1)4. They concluded that squatting increased testosterone levels due to involving larger muscle groups, including the abdominal and stabilizer muscles.
Another major factor that impacts how much squatting increases testosterone is the repetition range, training volume, and rest period length between sets. One study compared the hormonal responses from various rep and rest periods. The results showed that the most significant increases in testosterone occurred with ten repetitions and one minute of rest between sets. There was also a post-exercise increase in testosterone up to 30 minutes after the workout5.
To maximize your testosterone levels, try performing free-weight squats as your first exercise, ideally in the ten-repetition range, with one minute of rest between sets. Don't use ultra light weight here, either. Your 10 reps should be hard.
To learn more about boosting t-levels through exercise, check out our article: Does Workout Out Increase Testosterone?
I just went into detail about what research reveals, which is that yes, squats do boost your testosterone! Another interesting perspective is from Thomas DeLauer, a celebrity personal trainer and health author.
Take a look at his video below, which dives into squats, key factors to consider, science-backed research, and his personal takeaways.
While squats are possibly the best exercise to increase testosterone levels, they also have several other benefits. Beyond hormonal benefits, other perks include:
By the time men reach 30, their testosterone levels start to decline by roughly 1% a year. Similarly, women’s testosterone levels are roughly half of their peak by the time they reach menopause at roughly age 50. If you have any of the signs of low testosterone levels you could have a low testosterone level.
Signs of low testosterone include:
Signs of low testosterone in women include the above plus irregular menstrual cycle, vaginal dryness, and infertility or trouble getting pregnant.
We understand that not everyone can do squats or heavy resistance training. Luckily, there are other ways to increase testosterone production naturally. These strategies include:
If resistance training and weight lifting aren't your thing, you can still increase testosterone levels by exercising. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise, like running, can elevate test levels.
Consistent exercise has been proven to reduce BMI and cause increases in serum testosterone levels. Studies have shown that high-intensity interval training can also boost your testosterone8. You could even combine running and high-intensity training with these HIIT Treadmill Workouts.
One of the easiest ways to help control and increase testosterone levels is follow a balanced diet. Following a diet high in protein, leafy green vegetables, and healthy fats helps keep testosterone levels high.
To learn more or get some serious meal inspiration, check out our High Protein Meal Plan.
Several foods can help increase testosterone, including eggs, tuna, beans, pumpkin seeds, garlic, olive oil, beef, leafy green vegetables, pomegranate, fatty fish, cocoa products, shellfish, avocados, cherries, and berries.
Having a proper sleep schedule is vital for keeping testosterone levels high. A study from 2011 found that participants who got five hours of sleep or less had their testosterone levels drop by 10-15%9.
Be sure to get enough sleep to help build muscle and increase your testosterone.
Research has shown that there are several vitamins, minerals, and herbs that naturally raise testosterone levels. Some of these products include vitamin D, vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium, Ashwagandha, and Fenugreek, which we discuss in detail in our article: 8 Best Supplements To Increase Testosterone Naturally.
One of the best strategies is to take a testosterone booster, which combines a combination of quality vitamins, minerals, and herbs to maximize test levels.
When it comes to testosterone booster supplements, we find that natural products are the safest and most effective. Several studies have shown the effectiveness of natural herbs, minerals, and vitamins for increasing testosterone.
Natural testosterone boosters usually contain a combination of these research-backed ingredients. Products that use synthetic compounds or hormones can contain illegal or potentially harmful ingredients, so we like to stick to natural products.
One of the best overall natural testosterone-boosting products is TestoPrime. TestoPrime contains 12 all-natural, research-backed ingredients, including D-aspartic acid, Panax ginseng, KSM 66 Ashwagandha extract, fenugreek, green tea extract, pomegranate extract, vitamin D, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, garlic extract, and black pepper extract. This product goes through extensive third-party testing to confirm its safety and purity. They also offer a 100% money-back guarantee, so you can try the product risk-free.
If you'd like to explore more t-boosters, head to our article on the 7 Best Testosterone Booster Supplements.
And, if you are looking for an alternative to a testosterone booster supplement, there is also testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), a treatment prescribed by a healthcare professional that uses prescription hormones to help increase testosterone levels.
You can't go wrong with any of these 8 Best Online TRT Clinics. One of the most effective and convenient TRT options is Fountain TRT. You can follow this link to their online TRT evaluation to get the process started right away.
You can also learn more about Fountain TRT in our Fountain TRT Review.
In this section, we will answer some of the most common questions about exercises for stimulating testosterone production.
Studies have shown that testosterone levels increase immediately after performing squats.
Signs of high testosterone levels include increased libido, muscle mass, strength, and hair growth, as well as deepening of the voice, oily skin, decreased body fat, and possibly mood swings or aggression.
Yes, performing deadlifts is one of the best exercises to increase testosterone production because they are a compound movement that works nearly the entire body. You can check out other top t-boosting moves in our article: 5 Best Exercises That Increase Testosterone.
Yes, push-ups can increase testosterone levels because they use multiple large muscle groups, including many of the upper body, as as the chest, shoulders, triceps, abdominals, and stabilizer muscles.
Research shows that squats increase testosterone the most, particularly when performed first in your workout with your total training load in the ten-repetition range.
When it comes to exercises that increase testosterone, research suggests that the squat is the best exercise. Testosterone levels play an essential role in growth and development, living a healthy life, and reproduction for both men and women. Testosterone levels naturally decline by age 30, so it's important to use natural techniques, including squatting, to help raise levels.
Squats are a high-intensity exercise that involves large muscle groups and multi-joint movements to help build muscle. Squatting involves the lower body, back, core, and stabilizing muscles, all contributing to our balance and mobility. Studies have shown that squats exert more energy and elevate serum testosterone levels more significantly than other exercises, such as the leg press. Squats are one of the best exercises to increase strength and mass, and they provide several other health benefits.
Research has shown that to maximize your testosterone gains, perform squats as your first exercise of the day, in the ten-repetition range, with one minute of rest between sets. If squats aren’t your favorite, or you have limitations with resistance training, there are other natural ways to increase testosterone. Some ways to naturally increase testosterone include other forms of exercise, eating a balanced diet with testosterone-boosting foods, and having a healthy sleep schedule. You can also take natural vitamins, minerals, herbs, testosterone booster supplements, or try TRT.
Squats are a great way to help boost your testosterone, but if you're looking for more significant increases to your T-levels, pair compound lifts with one of these 7 Best Testosterone Booster Supplements. Another great way to boost your testosterone without leaving your house for an appointment is by working with an online TRT clinic! Get started by checking out these 8 Best Online TRT Clinics.
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